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Four fish, five fish, six fish, seven, Dr. Seuss turns 111

Editor's note: The following story was published March 3 in The Spectator, UW-Eau Claire's student newspaper, and is reprinted with permission. Photo by Brian Sheridan.

By Brian Sheridan
Staff writer, The Spectator 

Oh, the places he has gone.

From libraries to classrooms to homes alike, the limericks of Dr. Seuss have been quite a delight.  

Dr. Seuss' birthday on March 2 has been used as a day to celebrate literacy across the nation, and UW-Eau Claire students joined the festivities to share his work with local children.

Eau Claire students who are a part of the AmeriCorps early childhood literacy program, ECLIPSE, brought books, games and crafts to young, eager learners Feb. 28 at Prairie Ridge Early Learning School. 

Melanie Daas, sophomore and volunteer coordinator for ECLIPSE, believes this event is a good opportunity for parents to get more involved in their child's learning.

"It really brings childhood literacy to the forefront of parents' minds," Daas said. "By bringing events like this into the community, it shows parents things like this they're able to do at home."

Benjamin Jonjak brought his two kids to the birthday celebration and enjoyed activities provided. He felt the emotion games were good for his four-year-old, while his two-year-old daughter, Ariel, was much more enthusiastic about the balloon animals. 

Daas said this beloved author's birthday is perfect for showing children the fun side of reading and writing. It's an ideal time for them to play and learn at the same time.

With rhyming games, story time and some games involving green eggs and ham, the event was a classic celebration of Dr. Seuss. Even The Cat from "The Cat in the Hat" showed up to read some of the author's famous books. 

ECLIPSE program manager Donna Lehmkuhl said the games and activities were all literacy, numeracy or language-based. The games all showed the importance of reading skills in a traditional Seuss-like manner.

"They're games that are just a fun way to spend a Saturday morning," Lehmkuhl said. "Something fun that's focused on [the children] and to celebrate Dr. Seuss." 

Prairie Ridge was not alone in celebrations of the special day. According to the National Education Association, over 45 million people nationwide participated in the 18th annual Read Across America Day on or around March 2, the nation's largest day of reading observance.

Classrooms across the country were filled with children adorned with makeshift red and white stovepipe hats.The NEA even published a classroom activity guide for the various acclaimed books like "Oh, the Places You'll Go!", "Horton Hears a Who" and "The Lorax." 

In addition to classroom celebrations across America, the NEA will be on its Cat-a-Van reading tour across the country until March 6, according to NEA.org. The tour will visit schools, giving "Seussian-style" inspirational readings and promoting readership.  

These community events of Dr. Seuss' birthday show parents and children the different "ways you can learn to read," Melanie Daas said, and of course, as Dr. Seuss put it, "The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go." 

Photo cutline: UW-Eau Claire senior Anneliese Ramin dressed up as the Cat in the Hat and read to children during the recent Dr. Suess birthday celebration at Prairie Ridge Early Learning School in Eau Claire.